Digging into the poll numbers a little more reveals that the Republican candidate does indeed have a path to victory. As Ed Morrissey notes, Raese only racks up 56% of the support of Republicans right now; Manchin has 29%. If Raese can win bring those Republicans back home (probably not the hardest task), he can take a big bite out of Manchin's lead. Raese already leads among independent voters by twelve points. And there could be much more potential for growth here. As Morrissey suggests:
And actually, the partisan splits are telling. Raese actually beats Manchin among independents, 42/30, even though 35% of unaffiliated voters don’t know Raese well enough to have an opinion of him. Only 7% of independents don’t have an opinion of Manchin, which means a lot of independents who do have an opinion don’t want to vote for him.Currently, 43% of West Virginia voters view Manchin as a moderate, and 65% view him to be in the mainstream (only 40% believe Raese to be in the mainstream). Flipping some of those numbers could shake the foundation of Manchin's campaign.
Health-care could be a key wedge to pry Republicans and independents away from Manchin. Obamacare is wildly unpopular. 64% of voters want it repealed. Where does Manchin stand on Obamacare? He endorsed it.
With an approval rating of 32%, Obama himself isn't very popular in West Virginia. And many WV voters view the economy to be in rough shape and getting worse: 64% rate it as poor, and 63% say economic conditions are deteriorating.
If Republicans can connect Manchin to the national Democratic party, they can win over moderates, independents, and Republicans in West Virginia. Health-care reform, Obama's unpopularity, and the economy could prove keys to a Raese victory.